Nearly two years after Cyprus authorities announced their intention to allow the construction of a casino resort in the Southern part of the island, the bill that would seal the deal is ready to be introduced to Parliament.
On March 10, Cyprus' House of Representatives will vote on a piece of legislation that covers the creation of the first integrated casino resort of the Republic of Cyprus, an establishment similar to those that already exist in the Northern region of the island.
For those unfamiliar with the history of the third-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus has been divided in two separate parts since 1974, when Turkey invaded the north in response to a military coup on the island which was backed by the Athens government.
To date, the Southern part — the Republic of Cyprus — is a member of the European Union and of the Eurozone. The Northern region of the island — the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus — is a self-declared state that uses the Turkish lira as the national currency.
While reunification talks have progressed over time, to date troops from the United Nations still patrol the so-called "Green Line," a no-man's land buffer zone in between the two regions.
"This will be one of the most important infrastructure projects in Cyprus in coming years," government spokesperson Nicos Christodoulides said, stressing the importance that an opening to the gambling industry could have for the economy of the island. According to Christodoulides, Cyprus' plan is to issue a casino license valid for 30 years, together with a 15-year exclusivity agreement for the successful bidder.
National media speculate that the license is almost sure to go to a "top gambling group from Asia," which many believe to be the Philippine-based Blomberry Resorts Inc. Back in December 2015, Bloomberry's director of investor relations Leo Venezuela explicitly expressed the company's interest in exploring the opportunity to build a casino in Cyprus, as he told the Nikkei Asian Review that Bloomberry submitted an "indication of interest in bidding for the Cyprus integrated resort project."
Cyprus' Politis newspaper believes that Bloomberry's plan to expand in Europe may have to face some fierce competition, as the country's first and only license to operate an integrated casino resort is allegedly subject to a bidding war that includes also “a consortium comprising Hard Rock of Las Vegas and Melco of Macau, and Naga of Cambodia."
Strict Regulations And Fingerprints of All the Casino Employees
Speaking to the Cyprus Mail on March 1, Cyprus' Commerce committee chairman Zacharias Zachariou commented on the regulations presented at a joint session of the House Finance and Commerce committees by saying, "The regulations are sufficiently stringent, aim to protect the public and gamblers in the casino, and are on a par with those in force at European and international casinos across the planet."
Similarly, the acting chair of the Finance committee Angelos Votsis said that the final draft of the regulations reviewed by the committee on Mar. 1 was satisfactory and is ready to be submitted to the Parliament.
Should the regulations be approved without significant amendments, the Parliament will approve a text that is set to give the Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Authority (CGC) the faculty to conduct strict inspections of the casino operator and to collect the fingerprints of all the personnel employed by the resort. Also, the regulation will include strict measures on advertising, obliging the resort to promote all its services and not only its gambling offer.
Image courtesy of th09.deviantart.net